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EKAR 




ems of K ashmlr. 



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CHENAR LEAVES 



POEMS OF KASHMIR 

by 
Mrs. PERCY BROWN 




LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO. 
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON 

HEW YORK, BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, AND MADRAS 
1921 



StacR 
Annex 

kOD2i 



IN MEMOKIAM. 

These verses are dedicated to the memory of my father, 
tbe late Lt.<Col. Sir Adelberl Cecil Talbot, K.C.I.E., 

who was the Resident of Kashmir from 1896 to 1900 and a 
keen admirer of its beauties. During the term of his office 
he was a true and practical friend to the State. He died in 
December, 1920. 



MURIEL A. E. BROWN. 

CAlCWTtA, 1921. 



CONTENTS 

Page 

A Kashmir Shawl — Sonnet ... ... 1 

The Pilgrimage to Amarnath ... ... 2 

Lotus Flowers on the Dal Lake ... ... 6 

The Shalimar Bagh 

(A Mughal Garden on the Dal Lake) ... 9 

In Gulmarg — Sonnet ... ... 10 

Iris — In Memoriam ... . . . ' ... 11 

Panditanis ... ... ... 12 

The Mughal Garden at Achibal ... ... 14 

Pretsi, the Boatman's Daughter — Sonnet ... 16 

Water-ways on the Dal Lake ... ... 17 

A Legend of the Nishat Bagh 

(A Mughal Garden on the Dal Lake) ... 20 

Nanga Parbat from Gulmarg — Sonnet ... 23 

The Legend of Gupkar House ... ... 24 

The Pir Panjal Kange from Srinagar — Sonnet 27 

Memories of Gulmarg ... ... 28 

A Filigree of Gold and Silver — Sonnet ... 30 

Birdlife in Kashmir ... ... 31 

The Euined Temple of Martand — Sonnet ... 35 

Jacob's ladder (In Gulmarg) ... ... 36 

Peri Mahal — Sonnet 

(The Fairies' Palace) ... ...38 

Deodars and Ruined Temples — Sonnet 

(On the road to Kashmir) ... ... 39 



CHENAR LEAVES. 

Poems of Kashmir 

A KASHMIR SHAWL 

Bich web of woven dreams ! A Kashmir shawl, 
Its warp and woof of silky, pliant hair 
From choice pashmina goats, beyond the wall 
Of far Himalaya brought, with toil and care, 
Then dyed in all the subtlest hues which art 
For eastern looms could cunningly devise. 
And spun in threads so fine, the great world's 

mart 
Of patient skill can show no fairer prize. 
The pattern forms methinks a mystic shape 
In Jhelum 's windings, or in ' ' tree of life ' ' : 
Such blended colours artists' palettes ape 
Closer than weaver's shuttle plying strife. 

The art is lost! The spirit of this age 
In love's laborious crafts will not engage. 



CHENAR LEAVES 



THE PILGRIMAGE TO AMARNATH 

Mid lofty snows a mystic cavern lies 

And in its holy precincts dwells a Dove 
Which sometimes to the pilgrim's longing eyes 

Appears, as, filled with fervid ardent love 
They mount the pathway to this sacred spot, 

Their eager eyes all lit with wondrous zeal; 
For blessed he, who has the happy lot 

For ever his glad pilgrimage to seal 
Successful in first gazing on the Dove. 

In Palgam's wooded vale assembled there 

The congregations vast of pilgrims rest — 
A varied scene of interest most rare ! 

The camp is filled with stir and active zest: 
A vision as of Vedic times 'twill seem 

When all the world was primitive and young 
And nature's worship the absorbing theme 

While Vedic hymns the Hindu bards still 
sung 
What hymn more sweet than that unto the 
Dove? 



CHENAR LEAVES 3 

At night, the camp fires "with their ruddy glow 

Against the forest dark send fitful gleams, 
At day, a blue smoke ever soft will blow 

In whirling drifts, which holy incense seems 
Above the camp, to waft the fervent prayers 

Of this great multitude of faithful souls, 
Transported far above all worldly cares: 

And as they march in deepest union rolls 
A chant from voices praising aye the Dove. 



How many dream in India's sunny plains 

Of hoar Himalaya 's distant, blest retreat ! 
And treasure all their little hard-earned gains 

To bring them, humble pilgrims, to her feet: 
Decrepit beggars jostling side by side 

With lordly merchants, who to make amends 
For sordid lives perhaps, at last decide 

To join the pilgrim's pathway as it wends 
Onwards and upwards, still to reach the Dove. 



And here an aged widow with a look 
Of rapt devotion on her wrinkled face, 

Her feeble form supported by a crook. 
Seeks with the multitude to keep in pace, 

She sinks exhausted, but her spirit still 



4 CHBNAR LEAVES 

Restores her trembling limbs once more to 
try 
The steep ascent, and resolute of will 

The Dove she strives to see 'ere she may die 
Her voice still whispers faint the words *' the 
Dove." 

A high-born lady in a palanquin 

Lies half disclosed; between the curtains 
drawn ; 
Pushing close by, his face so wild and thin 

A naked fahir presses eager on. 
Strapped in a basket yonder there is seen 

A dying youth, still ever upward borne, 
Compelled upon another's strength to lean, 

His spirit nearly leaves the body worn 
Ah ! will his glazing eyes behold the Dove ? 

And see ! a group of sadhus halt hard by, 

In saffron-tinted robes, on leopard skins, 
Umbrellas all their shelter, bright of dye : 

Their long and matted hair much merit wins I 
And one, a consecrated vow has made 

Between the hours of sunrise and sunset 
Never to rest, nor speak — all over laid 

"With ashes, and with begging bowl will yet 
Devoutly crave forgiveness from the Dove. 



CHENAR LEAVES 5 

The foaming torrent is their lullaby; 

Then with the dawn they strike their tents 
and dimb 
The mountain path where awful fissures lie — 

Gulfs yawning deep on either hand — sublime 
A test for hearts ! yet dauntless on they go 

Until those dizzy heights they now attain 
Which mark the line of everlasting snow, 

Where Mahadev eternally doth reign. 
Ah! who among them first will see the Dove? 

At last 'tis reached ! The cave of Amarnath ! 

Within, a mystic frozen column lies — 
Great Siva's form, engraved by nature's art 

Which Hindu devotee here deifies. 
By the full August moonlight in the stream 

The pilgrims plunge, as frozen from the cave 
It icy wends — and thus their sins redeem 

As herein penitentially they lave. 

And visions came to many pilgrims here 
And many vowed they'd seen the wondrous 
Dove : 
***** 
A few among them who could see more clear 
Whispered with awe their vision was of 
Love — 
Of All Pervading Love. [ 



CHENAR LBAVBS 



LOTUS FLOWERS ON THE DAL LAKE 

Kashmir's soul-flower! thou most sacred 
bloom 
What wondrous treasure lies within thy 
heart? 
Deep hidden down amidst that rosy gloom 
Thy petals as its guardians do their part. 

Om mani padmi hum* 

Ah! how can I describe thy beauty rare 
To those who have not seen thy gracious 
form? 
Serene, majestic, yet pulsating there 
With love thy full blown petals roseate warm. 

Om mani padmi hum. 

It desecration seems to pry or gaze 
With curious eye upon that calyx gold, 

Which tremulous yet glowing doth amaze 
Us by the jewelled beauty we behold : 

Om mani padmi hum. 

♦A Buddhist mantra meaning — "The Jewel of the Flower 
of the Lotus." 



CHBNAR LEAVES 7 

Intricate is the pattern finely wrought 

By the Great Craftsman's Hand, with cun- 
ning skill 
Oh! Lotus bloom thy shrine have many sought 
And worship thee, and oft revere thee still. 

Om mani padmi hum. 

Proudly erect, though full of simple grace 
Thy beauteous head is reared towards the 
sun, 
Flushed by thy love perhaps is thy fair face 
Or joy that precious jewel to have won. 

Om mani padmi hum. 

The rosy dawn hath kissed thy petaPs hue 

And on the surface of each leaf is lain 
A diamond drop of clearest crystal dew 
Quicksilver beads which rolling break in 
twain. 

Om mani padmi hum. 

Thy leaves of deep, yet tender green are 
spread 
In multitudes upon the Dal lake's breast — 
A noble throng of leaves to form thy bed. 
And on each leaf a subtle bloom doth rest. 

Om mani padmi hum. 



S CHENAR LEAVES 

Who first with soulful vision clearly saw 
The spiritual jewel here revealed? 

Composed that mantra full of occult lore 
In which the mystic secret is concealed? 

Om mani padmi hum. 

Surely the humble, faithful souls who find 

Some solace in repeating o'er and o'er 
Those magic words, grope blindly for That 
Mind 
Which on the Lotus flower such grace doth 
pour. 

Om mani padmi hum. 



CHBNAR LEAVES 9 

THE SHALIMAR BAGH 

(A Mughal Garden on the Dal Lake) 

Shalimar! Shalimar! 

A rythmic sound in thy name rings 
A dreamy cadence from afar 

Within those syllables which sings 

To us of love and joyous days 
Of Lalla Rukh! of pleasure feast! 

Of fountains clear whose glitt'ring sprays 
Drawn from the snows have never ceased 

To cast their spell on all who gaze 

Upon this handiwork of love — 
Reared in Jehangir^s proudest days 

Homage for Nur Mahal to prove. 

For his fair Queen he built these courts 
With porphyry pillars smooth and black 

Whose grandeur still expresses thoughts 
For her that should no beauty lack. 

The roses showering o'er these walls 
Still fondly whisper love lurks here 

And still he beckoning to us calls 
By yon DaPs shores in fair Kashmir. 



10 CHBNAR LEAVES 



IN GULMARG 

In rain and damp among the forest paths 

The pine trees tall and darkly solemn loom — 
Some ruddy trunks scooped out to shelt'ring 
hearths 

By weary coolies shivering midst the gloom; 
The grey mists closely round the mountains 
fall 

And sadly cling and all is dank and drear — 
When suddenly a rift breaks through the pall 

Of vapour pale and rays of isun appear, 
The dark cloud curtains swift asunder tear! 

Stretched far below the opalescent plain 
Lies smiling in its tender tints most rare, 

And joyous rainbow beauty mocks the rain : — 

A glimpse of Heav'n revealed! Alas! in scorn 
The mists descend and I am left — ^forlorn. 



CHENAR LEAVES 11 



IRIS—IN MEMORIAM 

In Kashmir valleys blow 

Iris 
Purple and regal, or white, they show 
The gravels place 

And with dignified, imperial grace 
Revive in spring: 

Tribute 
Each root, — 
And love's 
Gift of Life Eternal sing 

Each year 
So dear — 
Messages of hope to sad hearts bring, 

The dead 
Eest nameless and unknown 
More constant far than graven stone 
Iris 
In Kashmir valleys blow. 



12 CHBNAR LEAVES 



PANDITANIS 

With graceful step, erect and slow 
Adown the stone-built, broken stair 

The panditanis* daily go 
And on their heads held high they bear 

Bright vessels, which they stooping fill 
Beneath the bridge's wooden pier: 

In pools of clouded amber still 
Which gurgle deep and glowing here. 



Their movements of unconscious graoe 
Glint in the Jhelum's flowing stream 

Where rich hues shimmering interlace 
And in the glancing ripples gleam, 



Then with their slender rounded arms 
They poise the shining lotas high, 

Or bashful, with half feigned alarms 
Draw close their veils with gesture shy. 



CHENAR LEAVES 13 

Bedecked by jewels quaint of form 

In pheransf robed, whose soft folds show 

Tints dyed by rays of sunset warm 
Flame, crimson, orange, rose aglow! 

With yon gay tulips they compare 

Which on these grass-grown house-tops 
blow: 
What types for artist's brush more fair 

Does all Srinagar's city know? 



* Panditanis, wives of Pandits or educated Hindus. 
^ Pherans, the long loose robe worn by the Kashmiris, men 
and women alike. 



14 CHBNAR LEAVES 



THE MUGHAL GARDEN AT ACHIBAL 

Thy murmuring waters seem to bless 
As with a tender soft caress 
All who are lulled here by their fall 
In garden fair of Achibal: 
And as on us they weave their spell 
They seem of ancient days to tell, 
And might the secrets all outpour 
Of full three hundred years and more. 
If you will listen close you'll hear 
These fountains whisper low and clear 
Of loves and hopes and fears which sigh 
Echoing faint from days gone by; 
Then tossing proud their waters gay 
They sing to me through falling spray 
Of Nur Mahal, whose heart's desire 
Was to this garden to retire : 
Here she would spend her happiest hours 
In watching their translucent showers. 
These lattice windows still remain — 
How light the touch of Time hath lain ! 
We might behold the very scene 
As gazed on by that well-loved Queen. 



CHBNAR LEAVES 15 

It is indeed a pleasure sweet 

To linger in this old retreat — 

Those ancient stately days recall 

When elephants with howdahs tall 

The Great Mughal, and all his court 

From Delhi up to Kashmir brought: 

They surely thought 'twas worth the pain 

To view these gardens yet again — 

The Nishat Bagh, the Shalimar 

Vernag and Achibal afar — 

Retreats he beautified with care 

And finest taste and culture rare. 

Perhaps this one of Achibal 

Appeals to us the most of all — 

Turf, soft as breasts of peacocks green 

Chenars reflect clear in the sheen 

Of waters which all copious flow 

And ne'er are dry and we may go 

Within this old pavilion 

'Neath which the streams pellucid run, 

It's ceiling painted in rich hues — 

On every side enchanting views ! 

What can with this at all compare 

E'en in this land of beauty fair? 

Or where could one more fondly muse 

Had we the whole wide world to choose?* 

♦The metre of these lines was suggested by the sound of 
the continuous flow of water at Achibal. 



16 CHBNAR LEAVES 



PRETSI, THE BOATMAN'S DAUGHTER 

Your eyes sweet Pretsi ! your soft, earnest eyes 

And oval, girlish face will haunting float 
Before me still — thus seated in your boat 

With dusky hair, in braids Madonna-wise, 
The amulet which on your bosom lies, 

Those coral beads around your slender throat 
With paddle poised : a most enchanting note 

For artist's canvas, which he well might 
prize. 

The picture's in my heart! but Pretsi 's shy 
And with a timid grace and bashful sigh 

Bends to her task, the boat is passing, yet 
She turns and glances back and throws me 
there 

A lotus bud she'd fastened in her hair 
And smiles ; Ah Pretsi ! would I could forget. 



CHENAR LEAVES 17 



WATER-WAYS ON THE DAL LAKE 

Alone I love to dream along 

The Dal lake's willowy water-ways 

And tune my heart to hear her song, 
A song which varies with the days. 



My boat pursues reflections clear 
And 'twixt a tracery of leaves 

Mountains of amethyst appear 
Through filmy veils the soft air weaves. 



AJl nature glows and throbs delight! 

I lie entranced: the atmosphere 
Bathed in this shining, radiant light 

Is steeped in colour soft yet clear. 



When suddenly with flashing flight 
A brilliant streak of purest gold 

Darts swift across my waking sight, 
A glimpse of living joy untold ! 



18 CHBNAR LEAVES 

The golden oriole, its note 

Of mellow music I can hear, 
As 'neath the willow boughs I float 

To catch its cadence low and clear. 

Still onward ever yet we glide 

Through tangled brakes of whispering reed 
Which their shy secrets thus confide 

If only we will barkening heed. 

And now my mangies* moor the boat 
To this green islet's peaceful shore — 

An island made of weeds to float, 
On which is grown a plenteous store 

Of golden melons which I see 
A Kashmir beldame pluck and throw 

In her shikaraf floating free. 
Then seat herself and paddling go. 

With this her trophy piled on higli. 
In picturesque confusion bright 

Of sun-kissed, glowing fruits which lie 
Eeflected in the ripples light. 



* MangieszzzKzshmiri boatmen. 
t5'Ai^ara=:Kashmiri country boat. 



CHBNAR LBAVnS 19 

These little isles which like a dream 
Float baseless on the Dal lake's breast 

How like our human lives they seem — 
Mere dreams which here but fleeting rest. 

I must return: the setting sun 
Extends the purple shadows deep 

Soft drifts of smoke, the day now done 
From many homesteads circling creep. 

Our paddle's splash the only sound 
As stealing 'neath the shade we cling 

To Takht-i-Suliman's dark mound 
While silent birds swift nest-ward wing. 



20 CHBNAR LEAVES 

A LEGEND OF THE NISHAT BAGH 

{A Mughal Garden on the Dal Lake ) 

*' Garden of Gladness!" The name doth echo 

Adown the centuries and in us wakes 
A chord responsive to the art which makes 

The Mughal Court far famed: for still here 
blow 
The same gay flowers by each carved cascade 

'er which the waters laugh in ripples clear, 
As when the Emperor's favourite and Vizier 

The terraces for signs of zodiac laid. 

Each cascade is a ribboned water-fall 

Which undulating simulates the grace 
Of plaited tress, or here perhaps we trace 

The form of flowing patterned silk : the wall 
Of waters made transparent by the flare 

Of fairy lamps in niches 'neath its flow 
Which beauteously at night display their glow 

And make the envious Shah Jehan declare 

The garden of Nishat himself must own, 
Nor could he let a subject keep this prize 

Which was the admiration of all eyes: 
And in his heart he ceaselessly made moan. 



I fj 



CHBNAR LEAVES 21 

Thus Asaf Khan was — so the legend goes — 
Entreated by his Emperor for this place 

Or else the garden fair should lose its grace 
And Asaf Khan be overwhelmed with woes. 

Threat 'nings in vain ! for Asaf Khan remained 
Still dumb; and Shah Jehan made furious 
vow 
He*d cut off at their source the water's flow — 
Which threat he carried out, and never 
deigned 
To re-instate in favour Asaf Khan, 

Or e'er forgiveness grant to his Vizier 
Who'd thus outvied the royal gardens near 
With this famed garden's still more perfect 
pflan. 

Asaf Khan rests despondent 'neath the shade 
And shortly sleeps, and seems in dreams to 
hear 
The sound of waters once more flowing clear 

Which 'erst a paradise his garden made. 
But 'tis no dream! for splashing white with 
foam 
The rill's live, leaping flow returns the same 
And wakens him, as if the soul now came 
Back to his garden's corpse, once the sad 
doom 



22 CHENAR LEAVES 

Of arid dryness had been all removed! 

Was it the work of magic? No indeed! 
The only magic which the work did speed 

Was love and loyalty a servant proved : 
With steadfast heart he risked his very life 

At all costs to restore his master's joy; 
Unknown, the means the servant could employ 

To move all hindrance to the water's strife. 

But it was done ! Soon was the Emperor told, 

The culprit straightway there before him 
brought, 
Who trembling stood before th' assembled 
Court. 

What punishment was meet for act so bold? 
Blows? Fine? No! Robe of Honour in esteem 

For faithful service and henceforth the right 
To him he loved to draw the water bright 

For Nishat from the royal garden's stream. 

A pleasing legend this, which surely rings 

Of something noble which will ever last 
A link with human nature in the past, 

And Mughal times alive before us brings. 
Still what a spell those stately gardens hold 

And memories romantic oft recall 
Of Kings and Queens — the fairest Nur Mahal, 

Whose names live on, enshrined in their rich 
mould. 



/ 



CHENAR LBAVBS 23 



NANGA PARBAT* FROM GULMARG 

A thought of God! disclosed to human eyes 

Deep symbol of His transcendental power, 
Ethereal, yet sublime she lightly lies 

A finger-post divine to Heaven doth tower. 
Great Nanga Parbat I Thou must wean our souls 

From aught that can defile or harm them 
here, 
For, if such naked purity unrolls 

Before us, 'tis a heavenly message clear 
And dimly we perceive what God's thoughts 
are: 

Thy snowy summit mingling with the skies 
Floating remote o'er mundane things afar 

Interprets the sweet vision to our eyes. 

A dream of matter here : in God's own Mind 
Thy true, eternal substance we shall find. 

* Nanga Parbat means a naked mountain. 



24 CHBNAR LEAVES 



THE LEGEND OF GUPKAR HOUSE 

What is the secret of the haunting charm 
Which lies in this old house now desolate 
And left forlorn? Some strange untoward 

fate, 
Perchance some cruel spell has wrought such 

harm 



Upon the garden fair! For pathways wild, 
Neglected, yet so full of natural grace 
There are, so over-gro^vn we barely trace 
Their course, with fragrant lilac sprays o'er- 
piled 



And iris white, death's symbols pale, ablow. 
The thicket dense of scented hawthorn here 
Embow'rs the tomb of some forgotten pir* 
Whose fame of old these mossy head-stones 
show. 

* PtrzuMuhammadan Saint 



CHENAR LBAVnS 25 

And on the gray and broken slabs still lie 

A few chirags* which gleam through foliage 

dim, 
In pious vague remembrance lit of him — 
So faint they 're like the upward whisp 'ring sigh 

Known but to God alone of some sad heart: 
Each Friday night a stealthy leopard steals 
Men say from mountains near and crouching 

kneels 
In Sabbath vigil o 'er this tomb apart. 

A legend strange the villagers relate 

Of how a Hindu brought to Kashmir far 

His English bride — ^years since — to this Gup- 

kar: 
To her the lower part did dedicate 

Built western-wise, of this large rambling 

house, 
Above he built with oriental pride 
Chambers in Indian style — not for his bride, 
And other secret chambers which would rouse 

Suspicion in the breast of any wife 
Were she forbidden by her lord to go 
Up there, or seek by any means to know 
The way in which he spent half of his life. 

'* Chirags-=.SrxaX\ native lamps. 



26 CHENAR LEAVES 

In vain the brightest glories of Dal lake 
Stretching beneath this terraced garden fair 
Beguiled the lonely girl her fate to bear — 
Mysterious fate! which caused her heart to 
break! 

For soon she died — and hence perchance ^tis 

why 
The house half-haunted seems, as if there 

clings 
About it yet remembrance of such things 
Which my heart's closest searching will defy. 

Folly perhaps! for all is smiling now 
Beneath the sun which lights yon great chenars 
With vivid green through these fine lattice bars, 
And gay and sparkling lies the lake below. 



A sudden chill creeps o'er my heart — of fear 
The brightness seems all false! Beneath is 

gloom. 
Bustling among the shadows of yon tomb 
Surely the wings of Death I softly hear. 



CHENAR LEAVES 27 



THE PIR PANJAL RANGE FROM SRINAGAR 

A mighty wave which threatening seems to 
loom 

Its crest in crystal Soam prepared to break 
And all Kashmir engulf, unto her doom! 

That icy outline never may forsake 
The form bestowed when it tumultuous rose : 

Restrained by powers titanic who decreed 
It ever should remain, poised, as it froze, 

A vision of sublimity indeed ! 
My spirit longs to soar and penetrate 

That snowy boundary range remote and pure 
For there perchance lies hid far Heaven's gate 

Which once attained, my restless heart will 
cure. 

But 'tis in vain I seek that region clear 
When whisp'ring winds reply " Lo! Heav'n 
is here." 



28 CHBNAR LEAVES 



MEMORIES OF GULMARG 

0! for the wind in the pine-wood trees 

0! for the flowery, scented breeze 
In far Guhnarg ! in far Guhnarg ! 

0! for the wealth of flowers so bine 
0! for the sound of the ring-dove *s coo, 

0! for that earth's soft covered breast 
The turf my love's foot^steps have pressed, 

And all the thousand scents which rise 
To subtly haunt our memories, 

Scents which spring from the very grass 

As o'er its velvet growth we pass 
In far Gulmarg ! in far Gulmarg ! 

O! for the babbling brook's clear flow 
Dancing from Killan's heights below, 

01 for the cold and gleaming snow 
Which Apharwat doth proudly show, 

And lights and shades which joyous play 
On her grey-green slopes all through the day. 



CHENAR LEAVES 29 

O! for the moonlight so serene 
As 'thwart the marg she casts her sheen, 

O ! for the rainbow tinted vale 

Which dream-like fades to vision pale 
In far Gulmarg! in far Gulmarg! 

Their distant peaks great monntains rear 
Pure, shadowy guardians of Kashmir. 

And now upon a dreary plain 
I wounded lie in aching pain 
How far Gulmarg! how far Gulmarg! 

But when this pain comes to an end — 
My soul released — swift may it wend 

To its true home — yonder I know 

Instead of Heaven, — God let me go, 
To far Gulmarg! To far Gulmarg! 



30 CHBNAR LBAVBS 



A FILIGREE OF GOLD AND SILVER 

A shimmering, tremulous light of leaves 
Seen through a haze of sunlight, when at 
dawn 
Is spread a sheet of golden-tinted lawn 
Beneath a web of blossom which Spring 
weaves : 
As if the sunbeams wandering past my eaves 
Had all been captured on this joyous morn. 
And to repay their debt had laughing sworn 
Largesse of gold, that blushing Spring 
receives. 

Gold, for the silver blossoms thusi outpoured 
Whose petals frail pledge us a rich reward 

In Autumn's luscious fruit, e'en now foretold 
By buds of peach and almond, which unfold 

Their tender hopes in fresh and dainty sheen 
Through faintest flush of rose and misty 
green. 



CHENAR LEAVES 31 



BIRDLIFE IN KASHMIR 

True ! Kashmir boasts not such a varied throng 
Of songsters as are England's dear de^light, 

But many birds there are who nest among 
Her trees and meadows and entrance our 

sight ; 

The paradise-fly-catcher softly flits 
Between the leaves with graceful flutt'ring 
tail 

Of purest white : restless, he never sits 
Upon a bough but threads the leafy veil, 

In dazzling contrast to the foliage dark. 
The brilliant sunshine glinting on his plume ; 

His mate, a bird of sober brown I mark, 

Sits peaceful near in her small nursery room. 

Yon joyous bird the golden oriole — 
Fairy embodiment of living gold, 

In melodies so blithe pours out his soul. 
And lights the Dai's dim green with colour 
bold. 



32 CHBNAR LEAVES 

A tiny scarlet bird with ebon head, 
And many .others bright of hue are here, 

Some vivid M-ue and others deeply red 
Among the many which frequent Kashmir. 

Of all the throng, the hulbul seems to claim 
The dearest place; *tis such a homely bird, 

^With such endearing ways, fearless and tame 
And everywhere his cheerful note is heard. 

When the Kashmiris their swift shuttles ply, 
Of this loved bird they patterns quaintly 
weave 

Of chashmi hulbul or the hulbul' s eye. 
Thus make their keen appreciation live. 

And deftly form a symbol intricate 

Th' appraising eye of connoisseurs to please. 

True art! that nature thus should indicate 
Designs which these poetic craftsmen seize. 

Upon the prows of many boats quite late 
Towards the dusk the kingfishers will rest 

And hov'ring plunge into the stream, then wait 
To dive again — the fish below their quest. 



CHBNAR LEAVES 33 

Entrancing 'tis to watch their turquoise flight 
With wings extended; or asi motionless 

They poise, with plumes of^'opal sheen bedight 
Intent! Alert! keen vigilance express. 



The hoopoe too, in fascinating crest 
And wings all striped in pattern alternate 

Of white and black, will take among the rest 
Of Kashmir's birds a place of honour great. 

Hark! how his name hoopoe will reproduce 
His hollow note in quaint similitude. 

Kastura*s tuneful melodies induce 
Memories of thrushes' songs in solitude. 



'Midst haze of pale blue Krishn* tufts there 
dwell 
Myriads of sky-larks by the Jhelum's shore 
Which visions dear of home also compel 
They here — as there — like warblings full out- 
pour. 



* Krishn is the Kashmiri name for the small blue iris, 
connected possibly with the Hindu god Krishna, whose 
characteristic colour is blue. 



34 CHENAR LEAVES 

And higher in the uplands we may hear 
Greeting the Spring through scented pine- 
wood trees, 
Faint echoes sweet — the cuckoo calling clear 
Minting with murmurs of the mountain 
bees. 

How these bird-notes associations bring 
So closely dear of English wood and lane 

All those who dwell in far Kashmir in Spring 
Will realize with touch perhaps of pain. 



CHBNAR LEAVES 35 



THE RUINED TEMPLE OF MARTAND 

On slope of vast and undulating plain 

In solemn solitude, of noble art, 
The ancient ruins of Martand remain 

Buiit for Sun worship on^e. Has the true 
part 
Of thy prone columns faded like a dream? 

Engirdled by the everlasting hiUs 
Temple of the Sun! Hi& radiant beam 

Illumes this broken altar, and still fills 
These shattered halls at dawn with his clear 
light 

Though human hands may no more lovinsr 
tend. 
The Sun's pure glory is God's symbol bright. 

Thus thy great destiny can never end: 

Still eloquent of prayers, though stones decay 
And forms of ancient creeds have passed 
away. 



36 CHBNAR LEAVES 



"JACOB'S LADDER" 

(/» Gulmarg) 

In Gulmarg have I seen 

Where earth and Heaven meet, 
For here beneath my feet 

Lies Heaven's bluest sheen. 

As if of old, men knew 

Your blooms were meant to be 
A link for us to see 

How near to Heaven's blue 



This stony earth is still, 

How God to us will send 
His ** Angels " — thoughts — ^which wend 

From Heaven our minds to fill — 



They gave you this dear name, 
For here when you're ablow 

Is Bethel: this I know! 
For '* Angels " came to me 



CHENAR LEAVES 37 

Upon your ladders blue — 

Ah! liow with Love divine 
My soul they close entwine 

Those '* Angel-thoughts " so true! 

Perhaps too, I may climb 

A little nearer God 
If I your blue rungs trod 

** Ladders '* to thoughts sublime. 



38 CHENAR LEAVES 



PERI MAHAL 

iThe Fairies' Palace) 

** Peri Mahal!" strange and romantic name 

Bestowed by folk-lore on this ancient pile 
Above the Dal lake's shore: I rest awhile 

And glance above — ^below — each line the 
same 
Limned on the bosom of the lake: the fame 

Of elfin deeds I've heard, of fairy guile 
Luring lone wanderers here for many a mile, 

Their very souls and bodies then to claim. 

A breath of wind and lo! the picture's gone, 
What wizard scene then have I gazed upon? 

The ruin hoar remains, its sad stern brow 
O'erhangs the shining lake in fro^vning 
gloom, 

Deserted — brooding lone — it's mystic doom I 
I'll flee! lest spell malign befall me now. 



CHBNAR LEAVES 39 

DEODARS AND RUINED TEMPLES 

{On the road to Kashmir) 

Himalaya's noble tree, great deodar! 
Towering aloft in thy majestic grace 
On mighty rocks, whose clefts give narrow 

space 
For thy strong roots — proud spread thy 

branches far, 
Thy name means ** Powerful "* for no worm 

can mar. 
Thy heart's sound strength: in Hindu cult we 

trace 
True service for thee, while its priests will 

place 
Lamps on thy boughs which for God's worship 

are. 

Ye " Trees of God " in honour of His name 
Oft planted by these mountains temples nigh 

Now left gray ruins, and unknown to fame — 
Where echoes faint of prayers on night-winds 
sigh 

Combining with your incense — deodars! 
Te point in solemn vigil to the stars. 

* The deodar belongs to the cedar family. Cedar in Arabic 
is kadr which means literally " Power." 



Printed by Thacker, Spink & Co., Calcutta. 



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